Under proposed new fuel economy rules set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), automakers with powerful short-wheelbase models are going to feel some pain. The agency is considering a plan to create two sliding scales of efficiency for cars and trucks of different sizes. Automakers will be assigned fuel economy standards based on the "footprint" (short wheelbase = small footprint) of their vehicles, and the number of vehicles they sell. Companies like Porsche, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz, independent luxury brands with high-performance models, will be hit the hardest. Interestingly enough, Toyota, Chrysler, and General Motors, big players with diverse model lineups, won't feel as much pressure.

Conforming to the tough new proposed rules may be very expensive. As a result, some industry executives expect some automakers, such as Porsche, just to pay the fines--it's less costly than changing a model lineup. Regulators are under the gun to adopt a policy by April 1, 2009. In the meantime, the NHTSA will be taking public comments over the next two months. Time to send 'em a letter...

[Source: Autoweek]